This past week, we witnessed a horrifyingly sad display of international indifference toward hundreds of people stranded aboard rickety boats. Photographs circulating in the world press show these unfortunate people pleading for mercy and tears rolling down their cheeks. Struggling with starvation aboard makeshift boats, these poor souls weren’t allowed entry to various countries and turned away to meet their inevitable fate out in the ocean.
One wonders what could be the reason behind this callous attitude. How could the world become so indifferent to the plight of others? What could possibly be the cause of this frosty behavior? How could the humanity stoop to this level of cruelty?
While some people went to work as usual, some attended feasts, some welcomed their guests for dinner and some spent hours on various social media platforms, in a far corner of the same world, a group of refugees on makeshift boats belonging to human traffickers were left to rot, out in the ocean.
After much reluctance, a few countries have finally agreed to offer refuge to some of these poor people. Malaysia and Indonesia have decided to provide these stateless (around 7,000 to 8,000) people with shelter. This is a temporary solution and more efforts are required to resolve the issue once and for all.
Otherwise, nobody considered Rohingya Muslims, who were about to starve to death, worthy of taking in. They didn’t want to give them shelter. They didn’t want to spend money on these poor people, but thought it to be expedient to spend money on sports events, parties, expensive clothes, cars, stadiums, shopping malls, or tourist attractions. Instead of asking, “how can we help these poor people?” they started looking ways to “get rid of them.”
Needless to say, not every leader or officer thinks this way. Surely, there are nations and there are good people who are trying to help the Rohingya. However, the final decisions of the policymakers once again brought to the fore the tragic trends in the world of politics. The situation is so dire for Rohingya Muslims that they accept risking their lives aboard rickety boats despite knowing that countries of the region will turn them away and despite the “death” lurking in the sea. What could possibly drive huge numbers of people to such a desperate act?
No one should think that now that Indonesia and Malaysia have accepted some refugees, the problem is solved. Although the discovery of mass graves in Thailand, the hotbed of human traffickers, led to a clampdown on traffickers, the problem is far from being solved. Currently, the boats that set off from Myanmar and are now adrift at the sea are home to some 8,000 people. Traffickers now charge the final installment not when they land, but while at sea and then abandon the ships. While the people of some Muslim countries wish to do everything they can to help the refugees, their respective administrations have finally decided to take a few steps in this regard. Most of the countries are blaming the Myanmar government in an attempt to convince the world that it is not their problem. But it is the problem of the Muslims, and the problem of the world. Considering the fact that we live in the same world with these migrants in need, how could it be not ours?
It would be pertinent to mention here that the Malaysian foreign minister consulted his Bangladeshi, Indonesian and Thai counterparts to find a solution. It is also heartening to note that UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon talked to Malaysian and Thai premiers and called for the rescue of these refugees. Another good news is that the US’ Holocaust Memorial Museum stated that Muslim minority in Myanmar are being subjected to genocide, as it shows that the world has begun to notice the Muslim Rohingya after a long period of silence. But the truth is, despite the calls from the world, it looks unlikely that Myanmar administration, which is still essentially under military control after the coup, could provide a solution. However, serious sanctions by ASEAN members could prove convincing for Myanmar, as they had refused all calls for solutions and didn’t attend meetings held for that purpose. Yet, as long as there is support of giants like China, which is in the process of laying a natural gas pipeline through Myanmar, such options look far-fetched.
For this reason, it is important that Muslim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia consider the situation as a problem of their fellow Muslims, of their own citizens, rather than that of Myanmar and produce solutions accordingly. The solution is simple. Just like Turkey, which welcomed more than 2 million refugees without questions, without foreign aid, and with love. Indonesia consists of more than 17,000 islands and some of those islands are partially or completely empty. They can easily provide tents or containers, which could be used for settlements and give these people some means for agriculture, few cattle for breeding and treat the Rohingyas like their own citizens that would contribute both to themselves and to their country’s economy. In countries like Malaysia, which are in need of labor force, the presence of Rohingya will prove to be a blessing. Expecting foreign aid is meaningless and futile. These can be done easily without extensive costs, using the current resources of the states.
Let’s correct a misconception, which is the result of the cruel ways of politics of today: A refugee in difficulty is not a burden like many bourgeoisies like to think, but instead, he is a guest from God. And a guest from God comes with blessings from God and those who welcome them will definitely be rewarded with gifts in return for doing something that would please God. This is God’s justice. And the decisions of the politicians or the international laws are invalid in the face of God’s justice.
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